Enemy. Arch-nemesis. Villain. Stranger Danger. Many words can be used to describe our adversaries – those individuals, both human and monster, that are trying to kill or destroy us on a daily basis. What? This doesn’t happen in your life? Well now, this is a bit awkward. Ahem…
Buffy the Vampire Slayer has seen its fair share of some pretty unique Bad Guys who have tried to make sure the Slayer dies permanently and stays six feet under. Not even dying several times could keep her down, and she even clawed her way out of her own grave. That’s pretty hardcore, but Buffy always bounces back from the afterlife. Throughout the show’s seven season run, there have been many formidable opponents that Buffy has had to face down on a weekly basis.
None have been more formidable than the appropriately dubbed “Big Bad.” Bonus points if you can figure out which season and which baddie that phrase first referred to. Give you another minute…a few more seconds… OK, now for the answer: Buffy first used the term to describe Angel after he had turned into his nasty alter-ego Angelus in Season Two. Angelus was the Big Bad thing that lurked in the dark after he turned, and Buffy had to use all of her Slayer-ness to fight him off without dying.
Buffy’s Big Bads’ have been some of the scariest and powerful enemies that she’s encountered on the show, and one she held a very personal and emotional connection with. The Big Bads have progressively gotten more powerful and scary as each season passed, starting with a vampire known as the Master, and ending with Buffy and the Scooby Gang and Potentials literally fighting the First Evil and its minions. She’s also fought a human-turned-demon, a cybernetic monster built with demon and human parts, a Hell God, three nerds with evil plans, and her best friend. Each of these foes beat her down physically, emotionally, and mentally, yet every single time Buffy was able to find the much-needed strength within herself and the love and support of her Scooby Gang to defeat each super-villain.
It would be easy to go in-depth about each of the Big Bads listed below, but why do that and ruin the surprise for those of you out there who have yet to see the show? Instead I’m gonna throw screenshots at you and tell you, Fellow Geeky Readers, what awful, super-evil deeds that they’ve done. For your homework tonight, People Who Haven’t Seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is to sit down and watch every single episode and decide who your favorite Big Bads are.
There will be a separate post following shortly showcasing the other monsters and villains that we’ve seen in each season of the show, but the Big Bads deserved their own post. They simply cannot be lumped together with the rest of the Team Evil pack – that wouldn’t be fair to them. Though the auxiliary baddies have been as much fun to watch as our Big Bads.
SPOILER WARNING: As always, I would like to remind all readers that there are spoilers below. Each Big Bads’ death is revealed, so it you want to keep your virgin eyes away, proceed to another post. So, tread carefully and enjoy.
The Big Bads (Through the Seasons)
The Master – with Darla (Season 1)
Episodes: “Welcome to the Hellmouth,” “The Harvest,” “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date,” “Angel,” “Nightmares,” “Prophecy Girl”; Season 2 – “When She was Bad”; Season 3 – “The Wish”
Pros: The Master was a powerful and old vampire (over 600-years-old) who couldn’t be killed by normal vampire-killing methods; the older the vampire, the harder they fall. He was able to use hypnosis on Buffy and was able to drown her, killing her (the first time). Darla was Angel’s maker and tried to seduce him into coming back into the Order of Aurelius, run by the Master.
Cons: Though the Master was strong and older than most vampires, he could still be killed. Buffy was able to fight off his hypnosis ability and kill him. His arrogance was also his downfall. Darla underestimated Angel and his former devotion to her. Angel was able to use his past history with Darla to get close enough to her to stake her.
Dastardly Deeds: TheMaster – had his minions kill innocents in order to help him gain the strength needed to escape the Hellmouth. He also managed to kill Buffy by drowning her, but she was saved thanks to Xander and CPR. Darla attacked Buffy’s mother and tried to pin it on Angel, but Joyce recalled seeing a blonde-haired woman at her house, indicating Darla had paid a visit.
Cause of Death: TheMaster – falling upon a huge piece of broken wood as he fell through the skylight that led into Sunnydale High’s library. Darla – staked by her former lover and child, Angel.
Spike, Drusilla, and Angelus (Season 2)
Episodes: “School Hard,” “Halloween,” “Lie to Me,” “What’s My Line, Parts 1 & 2,” “Surprise,” “Innocence,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” “Passion,” “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “Becoming, Parts 1 & 2”; Season 3 (Spike) – “Lover’s Walk”; Season 4 (Spike) – “The Harsh Light of Day” and “Wild at Heart”
Pros: Spike – anarchic behavior allowed him to be more dangerous than other vampires. He also became one of the leaders of the Sunnydale vampires, along with Drusilla, organizing them into a strong force that put up quite the fight against the Slayer and her allies. Drusilla – her “psychic” abilities and general psychosis and sociopathic behavior made her a very dangerous enemy. Her unpredictability was legendary and proved to be a valuable asset to her and Spike during their initial reign of terror. Angelus – the most dangerous of this vampiric trio, his intimate knowledge of the Slayer and the Scooby Gang allowed him to invest his time in psychological and mental warfare, causing a terror campaign that tore the Slayer down, causing her to doubt herself and her friends wondering if she was strong enough to kill him if it got to that point.
Cons: Spike – his arrogance got him his ass handed to him several times, and he was unable to kill the Slayer, much to his chagrin. Falling in love with her later on probably didn’t help either, and some signs of that showed in the season finale. Drusilla – does being super-duper-crazy count? While she used her psychotic episodes to her advantage, they also proved to be a disadvantage when it came to killing the Slayer. Well, at least when it came to Buffy and not the vampire slayer called after her. Angelus – arrogance was also one of his negative traits, and fighting the feelings that he felt for Buffy.
Dastardly Deeds: Spike – killed a few Sunnydale citizens, including high school students, and took over control of the gang of vampires that were roaming about aimlessly after the Master was killed, and killed the Master’s chosen one, the Anointed One (he was annoying, after all). Drusilla threatened many a person, both human and non-human, but her most dastardly deed was the brutal killing of the slayer Kendra, who was called after Buffy’s short-term death. Drusilla hypnotized Kendra and slit her throat using her nails, causing the young woman to bleed to death; Buffy later discovered her lifeless body after Angelus tricked her into leaving the high school unguarded. Angelus himself was responsible for many horrible acts, though none were as sinister as Jenny Calendar’s murder and the way he left her body for Giles to discover when he returned to his townhouse. Angelus also captured Giles and tortured him, trying to get information from him about unleashing the demon Acathla upon the world.
Cause of Death: Spike and Drusilla survived this season, which left Angelus/Angel as the only casualty of the season. After using his own blood to summon Acathla to form a portal that would send Earth’s citizens into one of the many Hell dimensions, Buffy ran a sword through him – his blood was needed to close the portal as well. Unfortunately for the both of them, Angelus’ soul was restored to him and he turned back into Angel, but the portal had already been opened. Buffy, devastated by this turn of events, asked him to close his eyes before killing him. Yeah – as I’ve mentioned before, I still cry like a baby during this scene. But as we all know, Angel’s death was not a permanent one.
Mayor Richard Wilkins – with Mr. Trick and Faith (Season 3)
Episodes: “Faith, Hope and Trick,” “Band Candy,” “Lover’s Walk,” “Gingerbread,” “Bad Girls,” “Consequences,” “Doppelgangland,” “Enemies,” “Choices,” “Graduation Day Parts 1 & 2”; Season 4 – “This Year’s Girl”
Pros: Mayor Wilkins – he was the mayor of Sunnydale, after all. He was also invincible and immortal for a short time, while he was preparing himself to become a full-fledged serpentine demon. He also used his surprisingly charming personality to gain Faith’s trust and loyalty after she defected from the Scooby Gang. MayorWilkins didn’t fear anything, which worked in his favor. Mr. Trick – MayorWilkins’ loyal vampire lackey who was left supervisor-less after Faith killed his former boss, the ancient vampire Kakistos. He didn’t last long ’cause the Dark Slayer herself staked him, inadvertently saving Buffy’s life, though at that point they were already becoming enemies. Faith – like Angelus, had intimate knowledge of the Scooby Gang and Buffy and used that to her advantage during her epic confrontations with the Slayer. Having a good guy turn bad is never a good thing.
Cons: MayorWilkins – his love and affection for Faith later turned out to be his biggest weakness, which Buffy exploited at the end of the season when she battled him and his demonic team at Sunnydale High. Mr. Trick – he jumped bosses quickly and was more of a behind-the-scenes vampire versus being front-and-center in the fight. Faith – like Drusilla and more famously Callisto from Xena, Warrior Princess, being a bit bitchy and sociopathic and psychotic doesn’t really get you anywhere in the world, as she quickly learned. And even though she harbored lots of hate and rage towards Buffy, she did feel some love towards her too. Being knocked out and falling into a coma doesn’t help either.
Dastardly Deeds: MayorWilkins – lots to name, but he ate quite a few graduating high school students in the season finale. And he also became a real demon, which made him giant-sized and twice as scary. Mr. Trick – he killed a few innocent people before being offed. Faith – also too many to list, but she murdered a vulcanologist at the Mayor’s behest, killing an innocent life for his hidden agenda. Deputy Mayor Allan Finch’s death was an accident, but her actions afterward and coldness towards his death led to her descent into the darkside.
Cause of Death: MayorWilkins – snake jerky, thanks to thousands of pounds of explosives rigged in and around Sunnydale High. Mr. Trick – death by staking (common vampire death), courtesy of Faith. Faith – the only survivor of this season, but she later redeemed herself and helped Buffy at the end of the series.
Adam (Season 4)
Episodes: “Goodbye Iowa,” “Who Are You,” “Superstar,” “New Moon Rising,” “The Yoko Factor,” and “Primeval”
Pros: Unstoppable killing machine built by a secret military agency that created the perfect soldier – cybernetics, human, and demon body parts. Oh, and a radioactive core that powered him that made him invincible as well. Adam was a dangerous hybrid that out up quite the fight against Buffy and almost killed her on several occasions when the two met to battle against each other.
Cons: Being a stupid killing machine whose arrogance would be his undoing, Adam was also one of the more boring Big Bads of the series. He was cool to look at, but left much to be desired.
Dastardly Deeds: Killed many Initiative soldiers and scientists, fileted a young boy so that he could study human anatomy, and recruited Spike to temporarily help him gain an upper-hand against Buffy and the Scooby Gang by pitting them against each other.
Cause of Death: Using an awesome spell (Xander, Willow, and Giles formed the core that helped her out) that summoned an ancient Sumerian being to give her strength, Buffy went all demon goddess-like, beating the crap out of Adam and ripping his radioactive/organic heart out, killing him instantly. Goodbye Mr. Terminator-meets-Pumpkinhead-meets-Human Soldier Monster!
Glory (Season 5)
Episodes: “No Place Like Home,” “Family,” “Shadow,” “Checkpoint,” “Blood Ties,” “I Was Made to Love You,” “Forever,” “Intervention,” “Tough Love,” “Spiral,” “The Weight of the World,” “The Gift”
Pros: Glory was a Hell God, after all. I think that puts her towards the top of the list of Big Bads. Oh, and she was sassy and bitchy and snarky and gorgeous, with a great sense of style. And she had many demonic minions at her beck-and-call.
Cons: All her pros were also cons, and she also switched between her real self and turning into her human avatar, Ben, which Buffy exploited during their intense battle in the pivotal episode “The Gift.”
Dastardly Deeds: Glory did invade a human host, leaving poor Ben trapped within his own body. She also had a gross and scary ability to suck human minds by pushing her fingers into her victims’ skulls, turning them into lobotomized versions of themselves. Poor Tara was one of her victims, sacrificing herself to protect Dawn when Glory was looking for the “Key” (a mystical entity that could open portals between our world and other dimensions). Tara made her believe that she was the Key, and Glory drove her insane after feeding off of her. Tara recovered after Glory was taken out.
Cause of Death: Her human host, Ben, was suffocated to death by Giles. Glory herself was beaten into submission using the Dagon Sphere and Olaf’s Hammer, courtesy of Buffy and some major ass-kicking. She was forced back into her human host, and presumably is back in her Hell dimension. Buffy ended up dying because Dawn (being the Key) had her blood used to open the portal into Glory’s dimension, but Buffy’s blood could also be used to close it (Dawn was created using Buffy’s bloodline). Her sacrifice ended up saving the world, until the next Big Bad came along to threaten it.
Nerds of Doom [Warren Mears/Andrew Wells/Jonathan Levinson] and Dark Willow (Season 6)
Episodes: “Flooded,” “Life Serial,” “Smashed,” “Gone,” “Dead Things,” “Normal Again,” “Entropy,” “Seeing Red,” “Villains,” “Two to Go,” “Grave”
Pros: Nerds of Doom – they were undetectable for a while as Big Bads because they were human and seemed harmless to Buffy and the Scooby Gang, but their real intentions would soon be found out. Dark Willow – she absorbed an insane amount of magick and became the most powerful with on Earth at the time, and with her being such a huge part of the Scooby Gang, they couldn’t bring themselves to possibly killing her when she went on her rampage, which resulted in the death of one of the Nerds.
Cons: Nerds of Doom – not as dangerous as the other Big Bads, though Warren was clearly the ringleader who wasn’t afraid to commit acts of evil. Jonathan and Andrew followed him, but were leery to performing acts of evil (Jonathan the most cautious of the three). Andrew would later kill Jonathan after being tricked into doing so by the First, disguised as Warren. Dark Willow – thought her magickal power was unmatched, she was stopped by her best friend, Xander, who reminded her of the humanity that was still left inside, and he helped bring her away from the darkness and turmoil inside her soul that was threatening to not only destroy her, but the world itself.
Dastardly Deeds: The Nerds of Doom tried to cause chaos and destruction, and try unsuccessfully to kill Buffy on several occasions, but Warren was able to succeed in killing a crucial member of the Scooby Gang and seriously injuring another: Tara and Buffy, respectively. Tara’s death was the catalyst for Willow turning into a dark, black magick version of herself, and she sought revenge for Tara’s death by going after our nerdy trio, successfully killing Warren before Buffy and gang were able to stop her. She also tried to destroy the whole world – her pain was that deep. Losing someone that you love so suddenly can cause so much grief, and Willow wanted the world to feel hers.
Cause of Death: Andrew and Jonathan survived, but Warren died at the hands of Willow, being flayed alive and hung up to die (getting your skin ripped off can lead to massive bleeding – FYI). Willow never died, so only one major Big Bad casualty in this season.
The First [aka The First Evil] – with Caleb, the Turok-han and Bringers (Season 7)
Episodes: “Lessons,” “Beneath You,” “Conversations with Dead People,” “Sleeper,” “Never Leave Me,” “Bring on the Night,” “Showtime,” “Potential,” “First Date,” “Get It Done,” “Dirty Girls,” “Empty Places,” “Touched,” “End of Days,” “Chosen”
Pros: Caleb – tough preacher obsessed with serving his master, theFirst. Likes to kill young woman who could potentially be Slayers in the future. With the First giving him his strength, he was pretty unstoppable until a scythe got in the way. Turok-han – uber-vampires that were tougher to kill than your average Sunnydale vampires, they killed many Potentials and proved to be difficult adversaries for Buffy and the Scooby Gang. Bringers – worshippers of the First that have been seen in Sunnydale before but played a major role in Season 7. They were responsible for hunting down all potential Slayers and killing them before they could gain full strength. The First – literally the FirstEvil to have existed on Earth, its influence was felt in every season as Buffy faced off against one dangerous Big Bad after another.
Cons: Caleb – easily killed by sharp objects, crazy for a god that doesn’t exist (the First); Bringers – sharp objects; Turok-han – take what kills normal vampires and crank it up to 1,000; The First – can make evil suggestions, but can’t really kill anyone (being an evil spirit and all).
Dastardly Deeds: Killing lots of future Slayers, messing with the Scooby Gang, causing Spike to kill innocents after regaining his soul, not being as witty as one thinks (here’s looking at you, Caleb).
Cause of Death: Caleb – sliced in half by the Slayer Scythe; Turok-han – killed by Slayers (Buffy, Faith, and the former Potentials), huge beam of sunlight courtesy of Spike’s special amulet; The First – hidden deep below the imploded Hellmouth, waiting to return another time.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: It should be noted that five of the Big Bads (or allies to the Big Bads) were able to redeem themselves from their wicked ways, or were good guys who plunged toward darkness. In the case of Spike and Andrew, they started off as Big Bads but eventually joined the Scooby Gang (Spike in Season 5, Andrew in Season 7), and the other three were all Scooby Gang members at one point before their destinies took a dark turn: Angel (Season 2), Faith (Season 3), and Willow (Season 6). These five former villains would become pivotal members during the last episode of the show, “Chosen,” and their contributions helped Buffy defeat the main villains while starting a new life outside of Sunnydale.